First record of Zarudny’s Jird, Meriones zarudnyi Heptner, 1937 (Rodentia: Muridae) in Shirvan, Northeast Iran (Text in Persian)Iranian journal of animal biosystematics
Among the rodent specimens deposited in the collections of Rodentology Research Department at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad، one specimen of Zarudny’s Jird was found which has been collected from Shirvan، in Northern Khorasan Province، Iran. This species is a new record for the fauna of Iran. The species Meriones zarudnyi Heptner، 1937 was recorded for the first time from Kushka in Turkmenistan (Fig.1A) and is distributed in the arid steppes of northern Afghanistan and southern Turkmenistan (Musser & Carleton، 2005). Meriones zarudnyi is endemic in the Badkhiz region of southern Turkmenistan (semi–arid highland habitats)، but has not been reported in the Iranian Plateau. Meriones zarudnyi was considered a race of M. crassus by Ellerman & Morrison–Scotte (1966). Kuznetsov (1965) tentatively treated it as a distinct species، while Lay (1972)، based on additional evidence from Afghanistan، emphasized that it was distinct from both M. crassus and M. tristrami. The presence of this species in Afghanistan was confirmed by Hassinger (1973) who stated that M. zarudnyi is restricted to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The studied specimen collected from the Shirvan confirmed that this species is widely distributed towards W of Turkmenistan and NE of Iran. The diagnostic characters of M. zarudnyi are ambiguous and overlap with those of other species of Meriones; its distinction from other Meriones species is difficult and a detailed study of external and cranial morphology of this species might be appropriate. This species differs from M. tristrami in having a hairy hind foot. The underbelly is white; the upper part of the tail light gray and its lower part yellowish; the tail is longer than the head and body; the tuft of the tail is well developed as in M. persicus، and its proximal part is off–white in both the upper and lower areas and the extremity short، dark brown to maroon dark yellow. The sole of the hind foot is partially covered with fur and the heel is bare. Claws are yellow and its upper part is a mixture of brown and chestnut color with a tendency towards a dark sand–like color. The auditory bulla is remarkably similar to M. persicus، but its posterior edges are flattened (Fig. 1B). The auditory meatus lacks a curtain، is flat with the anterior edge of the meatus slightly curved; the suprameatal triangle is large، isosceles، and closed. Suprameatal space is large with an upper empty half. The upper part of the suprameatal triangle is equal to the lower suprameatal process. Zygomatic plate is rectilinear (Vinogradov & Argyrupola، 1968). Material examined: Zoological Museum، Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (ZMFUM–2288) (Skull، skin and tissue)، adult male، Shirvan (37° 36΄N، 57° 42΄E، 1089 m)، Northern Khorasan Province، Iran، 2011، leg. A. Mahmoodi. Morphometric data of material examined is given in Table 1.
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